Things You Didn’t Know About Martha’s Vineyard

Books that the Storytellers write are set in the fictional world of Blythe Cove Manor on Martha’s Vineyard.  During this past summer, I visited the island and while there, I noticed things that were new to me, unexpected, and interesting.

22 Points about Marth’s Vineyard

  1. The Island is made up of six cities (Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Chilmark, Tisbury, Vineyard Haven, Aquinnah). Each has its own mayor, fire department, police, etc. and its own character.
  2. The island is referred to as either up island or down island.
  3. The city buses are white – #13 runs through Oak Bluffs.
  4. The decorative houses on oak Bluffs are called Painted Ladies.
  5. Annually in August, there is a Grand Illumination celebration. All the lights in the historic Oak Bluffs area are turned off and only Japanese Lanterns light the area.
  6. The Inkwell on maps is known as Ocean Beach.
  7. Edgartown is where all the action is. Day life and night life.
  8. There are wild grapes growing on much of the land, but the land is too expensive for vineyards.
  9. As to whom the island is named after, there are still two versions. Either the captain who discovered (Bartholomew Gosnold) the island’s infant daughter or his mother in law. Both were named Martha.  At the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, there was a card stating it was name for his mother in law, yet the guide who told us the island’s history, said it was the infant daughter.
  10. Edgartown is name for a Captain named Mayhew who wanted to be Mayor for life of part of Martha’s Vineyard. He thought the king (of England) wouldn’t allow it, so he offered to name the area after the king’s nephew and future heir to the throne, Edgar, who was a 4-year old child at the time. The king allowed it and Mayhew proclaimed himself Mayor for life. Edgar died shortly after this and was never king.
  11. The houses are practically all done in cedar shakes. The size of the shakes vary from 6 to 12 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches tall.
  12. There are some very large and expensive homes on the island, but you can’t see them. They are behind large amounts of foliage, fences and have dirt driveways. We asked about rainfall and were told it rained a normal amount. In fact, it rained while we were there, but during the night. I think the driveways are to deter people.
  13. There are no paparazzi on the island.
  14. There are no chain stores or fast food places on the island (no McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, etc.). We did see a sign for a Clarion Hotel, but never saw the building. They have three Stop & Shop Grocery stores on the island. They are very small inside.  Food in the grocery stores was not that much more expensive than in NJ — maybe a dollar or so more than usual.
  15. Everyone was so friendly. There was no blowing of car horns, or anger at people who aren’t paying attention. There are also NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS. There are lots of four-way stop signs (and they need them for traffic control).
  16. The streets are very narrow, so you have to turn slowly, even for a right turn.
  17. A lot of the homes have fences around them, some are short picket fences, others are tall wooden fences or tall hedges. The Painted Ladies are rarely fenced. There are some houses you can see with beautiful landscaping.
  18. The soil is very sandy.
  19. The vegetation looks like most trees I see in my area, except for the wild grapes growing up island.
  20. If you’re going to the island and taking a car, make a reservation in January or earlier. The ferry fills up fast.
  21. One area of the island (up island) was concerned about all the rich people coming in and building huge homes. The city of Chilmark enacted a law that homes could be 3,500 square feet or less. The other areas of Martha’s Vineyard don’t have that rule, so you can build 18,000 square feet homes if you want.
  22. In 1694, Jonathan Lambert came to the island as a deaf man. Through years of intermarriages, 25% of the population was born deaf (most lived in Chilmark). The American Sign Language was begun on Martha’s Vineyard.

If you get the opportunity, visit this wonderful place, but you have to plan it if you want to take a car. The island is not HUGE, but you can’t walk it. Bicycles are prevalent, but if you’re not experienced cyclist, you’re limited to buses.

I loved being there, and would love to have a house on the island. Just as soon as I win the lottery jackpot, it’ll be high on my list.

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